Parenting is hard. And in this modern day and age, parents are met with several new hurdles—from ‘sharenting’ to raising a new generation in the digital era. Couple that with unresolved personal issues, society’s unrealistic expectations, and relationship problems, and you end up with an extremely challenging parenting journey.
But what does it truly mean to be a ‘good parent’? Netflix’s original Filipino drama, Doll House, gives its viewers a peek into how a parent’s personal demons and issues can affect the dynamics of raising a child.
Doll House starts with a beautiful sweeping shot of the movie’s first location. It captivates you before cutting to a scene that gives you a rough sketch of what the main character’s life looks like.
Rustin (Baron Geisler) is a rock band singer who travels with his friends and bandmates playing in bars, getting drunk and high on drugs. After a night of drinking, singing, and getting high, they wake up to a friend who died of an overdose. His friend’s death shakes Rustin to the core, so he decides to travel to Rotterdam, where he used to live and work.
You see a series of flashbacks as he takes you around one of the Netherlands’ most beautiful port cities. You see his highs and lows, which helps you understand why he does what he does in the present day.
You meet Yumi a short while later. Rustin shows a keen interest in her and even treats her like his own daughter.
When things start to build up, you’ll understand why Rustin is so interested in a child he’s never met before.
He wants to take care of Yumi, but nobody believes he can because of his drug addiction and alcoholism.
The movie will lead you to a few questions: Can a parent still be a good parent if he has unresolved issues with himself? How much of a parent’s struggle do children understand? And how much should they know about it?
Should parents who struggle with addiction be given a chance? Or should they be written out of their children’s lives?
Doll House Cast and Crew Review
Marla Ancheta is a Filipino director known for her drama films like Finding Agnes (2020) and Ikaw (2021).
She directs movies that audiences say are inspiring, hopeful, funny, and heartwarming. Often, her characters go through an emotional journey, which eventually helps them discover who they are along the way. In turn, Ancheta’s audience isn’t only entertained, but they also learn a bit about themselves as well.
Baron Geisler plays the lead character Rustin. Geisler was catapulted to fame when he played Alfonso “Fonzy” Ledesma in the hit Philippine teen drama series Tabing Ilog (1999-2003).
He also starred alongside Vilma Santos and Claudine Barreto in the movie Anak (2000). He was also one of the kids in Ang TV (1992), a youth-oriented comedy variety show alongside Paolo Contis, Patrick Garcia, Camille Prats, and more.
From there, he would go on to play a variety of characters—from scary villains to comedic sidekicks.
Althea Ruedas, who plays Yumi, started her acting career playing Nathalie in the romantic comedy Silly Red Shoes (2019) alongside young stars like Francine Diaz and Kyle Echarri.
Ruedas was also in the movie The Haunted (2019) before landing the role of Yumi.
Phi Palmos appeared in movies like Sila-sila (2019), Akin ang Korona (2019), and Kintsugi (2020) before landing the role of Bok in Doll House.
Katreena Beron gives life to the character of Rachelle. Before landing her role in Doll House, she worked as a theater actress, singer, events presenter, and voice actor in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
- Izzah Hankammer as Sheena
- Alwyn Uytingco as Diego
- Ricardo Cepeda as Rustin’s dad
- Zeden Obias as Rustin’s band manager
- Kevin Regalado as Rustin’s band member
- Anthony Romansanta as Rustin’s band member
Doll House Soundtrack
Perhaps the most heartwarming part of the movie is when Yumi sings Regine Velasquez’s Pangako in front of her father. We won’t spoil how that goes, but it’s definitely one of the film’s highlights.
Pangako plays throughout the most significant parts of the movie. It was written by Filipino singer and songwriter Ogie Alcasid and actress Manilyn Reynes and was released in 2001. It was arranged for the film by Kettle Mata and performed by Svetlana J. De Leon.
Is it worth watching?
There’s been a lot of debate online about whether or not the film is worth watching—mostly from parents in parenting forums. Some argue that the film glorifies drug addiction and ‘bad parenting,’ while some talk about how it’s valid for parents not to have it all together and struggle with personal or relationship issues while raising a child.
Doll House offers only a glimpse into the lives of people struggling with drug addiction and alcoholism. It dives deep into the relationship between parents and children and shows the effects of a parent’s choice on their kids’ lives.
In the end, most of those who have seen the film said it’s worth watching—whatever your definition of a ‘good parent’ is and how you’re raising your child amidst personal issues. So perhaps it’s the movie you need to watch to help you open up difficult conversations in your family.